Recent research shows that, despite the rise in digital customer service channels and options, 79% of consumers prefer that the human touch remain part of customer service when engaging with brands and service providers.
A global study, The Digital Tipping Point: How Do Organizations Balance the Demands for Digital and Human Customer Service?, just released by Verint Systems, with support from Opinium Research and IDC, surveyed more than 24,000 consumers in 12 countries and polled more than 1,000 businesses to identify the right balance between digital and human customer service.
The study found that a key factor in whether consumers choose digital or traditional channels (e.g., phone, in-store) is the complexity of the service request: When the service request is simple, 22% of survey participants chose the phone as the most popular channel, while email and SMS tied for second place at 19% each. As service requests become more complex, reliance on human interaction increases. More than one-third (34%) of respondents said that they prefer to go in-store for answers to complex inquiries, while 33% said they prefer the phone. The highest-ranked digital channel was email with only 7% of consumers reporting that they use it to handle complex requests.
The report points out that, while digital natives are the driving force behind the shift toward digital channels, they still prefer human interactions. Phone (24%) and in-store (22%) ranked as the most popular top communication preference among millennials, similar to preferences cited by Gen X (phone, 24%; in-store 23%) and boomers (phone, 24%; in-store, 24%). However, digital channels ranked much higher as second and third preferences for millennials than for other generations. Across generations, 64% of those polled said that engaging with organizations by phone or in-store is more convenient and a better service experience.
What does this mean for businesses? “As consumers become more digitally savvy, organizations are considering and even implementing more cost-effective digital channels as part of their evolving customer engagement strategies. However, the message from consumers is clear. They still want human touch as an option in many customer service scenarios,” explains Dave Capuano, global vice president, integrated marketing, Verint.
REPORT RECOMMENDATION: Improve digital services, but not at the expense of traditional engagement offerings. “Businesses considering more cost-effective, digitally driven channels need to ensure they understand customers’ channel preferences and the influence they have on customer behavior and engagement,” adds Capuano. “Those organizations that tip the balance in favor of digital at the expense of traditional service may risk not keeping their customers happy in the long run.”
Excerpted from “Supporting Digital Natives.” Download a PDF of the full article here.